MINUTES OF A RE-CONVENED
THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION
AT 04.30 PM IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
In Attendance: Mrs C Devon, Mr T Logue, Mr R Good, Mr H Widdis, Ms S McClelland, Ms C Foster.
The Speaker welcomed members to a re-convened meeting of the Assembly Commission (adjourned from 5 March 2008) to discuss the issue of politically sensitive events held within Parliament Buildings.
EVENTS AT PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Moutray withdrew his amendment to the interim criteria which stated that ‘Party rooms will only be used for business relating to the role of the Assembly.’ Mr Maginness, Rev Coulter and Mr Neeson agreed with this action. Mr Butler confirmed that his position remained unchanged. Rev Coulter asked that dining functions with less than 10 people be excluded from the need for cross community support.
Mr Widdis talked to his written legal advice in relation to the Commission’s authority to take decisions on events being held in Parliament Buildings. He referred to the particular event discussed at recent meetings and outlined his opinion with regard to introducing interim criteria being applied when booking events at Parliament Buildings. Mr Widdis’ advice also discussed the use of Party Rooms and the terms of the Assembly Commission’s Equality Scheme.
The Speaker thanked Mr Widdis and asked for Members comments/questions.
Mr Butler outlined a series of questions which were responded to by Mr Widdis.
At this point it was proposed that the events paper proposal to introduce interim criteria relating to holding events at Parliament Buildings be introduced with immediate effect. This proposal was accepted by a majority of the Commission Members with Mr Butler registering an objection.
The Speaker thanked Members for their dedication in seeking to resolve this issue during the past number of weeks and expressed his regret at the inability of the Commission to come to a decision which was acceptable to all.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Mr Moutray asked about restrictions in relation to the use of photography and filming at Parliament Buildings. The Interim Clerk/Director General explained that a paper was due to be presented to the Commission on ‘press facilities/issues’ at its next meeting and suggested that this item could be discussed in more detail then, when further advice about the rules currently in place could be provided. Mr Maginness and Mr Neeson also suggested that further time should be taken for the Commission to give full informed consideration to this issue.
Mr Moutray then proposed:
“that no footage, either still pictures or television footage be allowed in the corridors or any other area within Parliament Buildings other than the Great Hall without prior agreement by the Assembly Commission”.
This was seconded by Rev Coulter.
Mr Maginness said that he could not support the proposal and appealed to Members to re-visit this area of concern at its next meeting.
Mr Neeson also confirmed that he could not support the proposal.
The vote was taken:
2 for (54 votes)
3 against (52 votes)
The proposal was carried.
Mrs Devon undertook that the Assembly Information Office would issue a press release recording the Commission’s decision in respect of events.
It was agreed that Parties would be informed of the Commission’s decision immediately following the meeting and that a statement would be released to the Press with a copy of the interim criteria attached.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Assembly Commission will take place on Thurs 13 March 2008 at 2:00 pm in room 106.
The meeting ended at 4:55 pm